Indonesian minister calls for ‘social media detox’

A man plays with his mobile phone in front of a cellular provider’s advertisement with a Facebook logo in Jakarta. File/AFP
Updated 08 April 2018
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Indonesian minister calls for ‘social media detox’

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Rudiantara, has called for a social media detox following Facebook’s revelation that the personal data of more than a million Indonesian users may have been improperly accessed.
“I call on Indonesians to temporarily fast from using social media. If they really have to use it, please be really careful when sharing personal data,” Rudiantara told Arab News in a telephone interview on Saturday.
Rudiantara said he contacted Facebook representatives in Indonesia two weeks ago and gave them a verbal warning over the possible data breach when initial reports of Cambridge Analytica scandal emerged.
After Facebook disclosed in a blog post on Wednesday that a large number of Indonesian users’ data had been shared with Cambridge Analytica, Rudiantara summoned company representatives for a meeting on Thursday and gave them a warning letter.
“We asked them to provide us with their audit results to see how personal information of Indonesian users have been used. We also asked Facebook to block third-party applications from accessing Indonesian users’ personal data,” he said.
Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer wrote in the blog post that the firm believes information from up to 87 million users worldwide may have been improperly shared.
According to the chart in the post, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam are among the top 10 countries whose citizens’ personal data may have been harvested for Cambridge Analytica’s inappropriate use.
The chart shows that data of 1.75 million users in the Philippines, which is second to US users, could have been leaked, followed by Indonesia with more than a million users. In Vietnam, ranked ninth in the chart, about 427,000 users are believed to have been affected.
Rudiantara said he had asked police to probe alleged violations of electronic information and transactions law on the misuse of Indonesia users’ data. If Facebook is found guilty of violations, its representatives in Indonesia could face a maximum 12 years in prison and a fine of up to 12 billion Indonesian rupiah ($870,000).
In an emailed response to questions from Arab News, Facebook said it was committed to protecting people’s information, and plans to make privacy controls and settings available in all countries. The firm said it had taken significant steps to make its privacy tools easier to find, restrict data access on Facebook, and make its terms and data policy clearer.
“Overall, we believe these changes will better protect people’s information, and we will keep our community updated as we make more changes. We will continue to work with privacy and information commissioners, and authorities, in Indonesia,” a Facebook spokesperson wrote.
Indonesians are among the world’s most active social media users.

A survey in October 2017 by the Indonesian Internet Service Providers Association and the Indonesian Telecommunications Society showed Facebook is the second most popular social media application on smartphones, used by 66.5 percent of respondents. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, was most popular, with 82.6 percent of respondents.
The survey found 79 percent of respondents objected to having their personal data being transferred to another party without their consent. Almost all respondents said they acknowledged personal data shared online should be protected and that the government should draft legislation protecting personal data shared online.
Rudiantara said the data leak should prompt lawmakers to start deliberating a personal data protection bill. Data protection is currently covered by a 2016 ministerial decree.


Seoul: North Korea withdrew staff from liaison office

Updated 19 min 31 sec ago
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Seoul: North Korea withdrew staff from liaison office

  • The second US-North Korea summit in Vietnam collapsed due to disputes over US-led sanctions on the North
  • The South Korean statement calls the North’s decision “regrettable”

SEOUL: North Korea abruptly withdrew its staff from an inter-Korean liaison office in the North on Friday, Seoul officials said.
The development will likely put a damper on ties between the Koreas and complicate global diplomacy on the North’s nuclear weapons program. Last month, the second US-North Korea summit in Vietnam collapsed due to disputes over US-led sanctions on the North.
Seoul’s Unification Ministry said that North Korea informed South Korea of its decision during a meeting at the liaison office at the North Korean border town of Kaesong on Friday.
The North said it “is pulling out with instructions from the superior authority,” according to a Unification Ministry statement. It didn’t say whether North Korea’s withdrawal of staff would be temporary or permanent.
According to the South Korean statement, the North added that it “will not mind the South remaining in the office” and that it would notify the South about practical matters later. Seoul’s Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung told reporters that South Korea plans to continue to staff the Kaesong liaison office normally and that it expects the North will continue to allow the South Koreans to commute to the office. He said Seoul plans to staff the office with 25 people on Saturday and Sunday.
The South Korean statement calls the North’s decision “regrettable.” It said South Korea urges the North to return its staff to the liaison office soon.
The liaison office opened last September as part of a flurry of reconciliation steps. It is the first such Korean office since the peninsula was split into a US-backed, capitalistic South and a Soviet-supported, socialist North in 1945. The Koreas had previously used telephone and fax-like communication channels that were often shut down in times of high tension.
The town is where the Korea’s now-stalled jointly run factory complex was located. It combined South Korean initiatives, capital and technology with North Korea’s cheap labor. Both Koreas want the US to allow sanctions exemptions to allow the reopening of the factory park, which provided the North with much-needed foreign currency.